Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere have filed a lawsuit against group Public Advocate of the United States for using their engagement photo in an anti-gay flier.
The photo of the couple kissing at their engagement party was altered and turned into an anti-gay mailer 2000 miles away, reported ABC News. Edwards and Privitere are seeking a court order saying the non-profit organization violated the law by using the photo without their authorization. They have also asked for damages, costs and attorney fees. The couple received legal assistance from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which has Public Advocate on its list of hate groups.
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"This case is about the defilement of a beautiful moment by a group known for demonizing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community," said Christine P. Sun, SPLC deputy legal director. "This was just a cheap way for Public Advocate to avoid having to pay for a stock photo to use in their hateful anti-gay attack ad. It was nothing short of theft."
The couple met in New York in 2000 and were engaged in December 2009, according to NBC News. The following May, photographer Kristina Hill took their engagement photos, and they married later that year in a civil ceremony in Connecticut.
"We want to take back the beautiful moment in our lives that was reflected in our engagement photo before it was hijacked," Edwards, a 32-year-old college administrator living in Montclair, N.J., told NBC News. "We also … want to take a stand for others who might be similarly targeted in the future."
"All that we did was what any other couple would do to mark their engagement and have these photos taken for family and friends to share our joy and our excitement and help people (see) what path we were taking toward our wedding," said Privitere, 37. "It was a great, great day for us."
According to The Washington Post, Public Advocate, led by Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio since 1981, has a lengthy history of controversial mass mailings, publications and street theater aimed at protesting what Delgaudio calls a "radical homosexual" agenda.